Between deserts and jungles: the emergence and circulation of sylvatic plague (1920-1950)

Matheus Alves Duarte Da Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

I trace the development of the concept of sylvatic plague – the first sylvatic disease – examining its invention by Ricardo Jorge to describe a global phenomenon of plague reservoirs among wild rodents, and its circulation. The concept implied a space where plague was enzootic, and relied on a division between inhabited and uninhabited spaces and between domestic rats and wild rodents. Some of the characteristics of this space varied, but it always referred to places imagined as empty of humans and rats. In 1927, it designated ambiguously deserts, in 1935, uninhabited regions in general, and in Brazil, it referred to the jungle.

O artigo retraça o desenvolvimento do conceito de peste selvática, a primeira doença selvática, da utilização por Ricardo Jorge para descrever um fenômeno global de reservatórios de peste entre roedores selvagens, até sua circulação nos anos 1930 e 40. O conceito inventou um espaço onde a peste se mantinha enzoótica, dividindo entre lugares habitados e inabitados, e roedores domésticos e selvagens. Algumas características desse espaço mudaram com o tempo, mas sempre mantendo a ideia de lugares imaginados como vazios de humanos e ratos. Em 1927, o conceito designava ambiguamente desertos, em 1935, regiōes desabitadas em geral, e no Brasil, ele se referia à selva.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-339
Number of pages15
JournalMedical Anthropology
Volume42
Issue number4
Early online date24 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • Amazon
  • Emptiness
  • Office International d’Hygiène Publique
  • Ricardo Jorge
  • Southern Africa
  • Wild rodents

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